Other Viewpoints on the Science March, ‘Big Agro on Campus’

Dr. Devon G Peña wrote a piece, March for Science: Why I Will Not be Marching with the ‘Liberal Nerds referencing The March for Science, a series of rallies and marches held in Washington, D.C. and more than 600 other cities across the world on Earth Day, April 22.

“..I am not marching today. And it is not because I am anti-science. I am against continued widespread reductionism of and in science (e.g., the geneticization of all phenomena); I am against continued service of scientists in the capitalist control of knowledge production and the deployment of technologies that place our health, safety, and well-being at higher risk. I am certain many of the scientists marching today will feel the same way; but this is a minority worldview.”
Scientists need to withdraw from collaborating with federal, state, or corporate interests or agencies that are not just anti-science but anti-health, anti-safety, and anti-Earth. Scientists need to consider a strategic boycott and a withdrawal of their labor; they must not remain subservient or obsequious under the empire of a capitalist dictatorship over the planet. Critics of the M4S note the march is but a self-interested response to Trump’s war on science and how it lacks grounding in broader mass-based movements against the capitalist anti-ecological rationality of the extant global neoliberal regime. Too many of these (mostly white male) scientists are disconnected from the struggles of indigenous and peoples of color as well as other vulnerable communities.

For additional context, see this piece by Canadian investigative journalist Bruce Livesey at The Walrus titled Big Agro on CampusThe story tracks pesticide industry funding, particularly at University of Guelph, which has lead to research on pesticides such as glyphosate, atrazine and neonics.

That research finds, not surprisingly, that these pesticides are “safe” and have no adverse environmental impacts. Here is an excerpt from Livesey’s story:

Every year, Monsanto, Bayer CropScience, basf, and DuPont collectively spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at the University of Guelph on research projects largely designed to examine the environmental and health impacts of their compounds. The university has done its best to welcome this money. It has built a sprawling six-acre research park on its grounds that has housed offices for Monsanto, Syngenta, and dozens of other private-sector agricultural and farming corporations. Numerous companies—including Bayer—also sponsor research chairs.

These initiatives have resulted in one of the world’s largest concentrations of expertise and facilities dedicated to crop research and development—a Silicon Valley of agriculture responsible for breakthrough after breakthrough: edible nanomaterials that extend the colour and flavour of food; bioplastics derived from ingredients such as beans, soy, and wheat straw; dna barcoding that helps distinguish more than 400,000 species of land plants.

Jay Bradshaw, president of Syngenta Canada, may well have been speaking for the entire industry when, in a 2014 report that was prepared to drum up investment in the university, he was quoted as saying: “There is a phenomenal network of agrifood hubs of activity—of formal networks and informal networks—to be able to tap into. That’s a huge benefit for us.”

 

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